Showing posts with label inspiration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label inspiration. Show all posts

Thursday, January 9, 2014

More Than Words

By Douglas Clark

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, they are right, but sometimes, a picture can say something better than an entire novel could. In my internet wanderings I’ve come across a few images that have really blown me away. So I thought I’d share a few. Hopefully they will inspire you and ignite a bit of creative imagination in your heart as well.


A visual illusion

The Earth from space

A Russian Lighthouse

An incredible landscape

The sky, on fire

The visually stunning

The phases of the Moon

A fantastic eye

To me, these pictures all represent the strange and mystical, the real and remote, and the raw power of imagination. I find myself staring at them and feeling a sense of wonder. What about you? 

Thanks for reading.
Questions and Comments are welcome.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

NaNo Update

By Douglas Clark

Hello everyone! I hope your week has gone well. Mine has been full of drama and excitement. I wish I could say all of it was contained in my novel, but alas real life must sometimes intrude on every writer's quest. I did however feel it necessary to give an update on my writing progress during the National Novel Writing Month Contest.

The contest started on November 1st and goes to November 30th. So here's a simple breakdown of how I've been doing.

November 1= 1672
November 2 = 0 (ouch, this really hurt me)
November 3 = 1420
November 4 = 1357
November 5 = 1440
November 6 = 905

Not even a week in and I've fallen almost two days behind. That is not insurmountable, but I need to be more diligent in getting to my quota each day. However, I've decided that I will not sacrifice quality for quantity. I look at this contest as an exercise to help build discipline and consistency, not just to spew word vomit on a page to reach a specific number. The way I see it, even if I reach the 50,000 mark or not at the end, I've already won, because hey, I'm writing another novel. 

I'll give updates every week until the end. Next Thursday's post will be back to my weekly attempt to inspire and motive with tales of everyday life and moments of brilliant inspiration. Until then, keep creating.

Thanks for reading.
Questions and Comments are welcome.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Can You Feel the Inspiration?

How often have you heard a song playing on the radio, watched a favorite movie, or been part of a conversation where the subject matter was so familiar, so woven into your memory that it transported you to a positive, pleasant, and comforting place in your mind? Do you find solace there? Do you feel waves of nostalgia and happiness wash over you? I do.

I'll give you a couple of examples to illustrate my point. While in college, my roommates and I (who are still good friends) would watch Braveheart and Independence Day repeatedly. I'd say almost everyday, one or the other movie was always on whenever any of us walked into our dorm room. It got to the point where we could all recite the dialogue ad nauseam. 

Obviously one of the most famous scenes in the movie Braveheart:

ID4- one of my favorite lines in the movie. 

Another example is the song Take On Me, by A-ha. Okay I'm aging myself here but this one is a classic. As MTV began to emerge as a musical powerhouse (long before they abandoned videos for trashy reality TV), I'd watch with amazement and thoroughly enjoyed A-ha's video blend of live action and animation (I also had a school boy crush on the girl in the video). 
A-ha's video, Take On Me:

My last example is Rob Dougan's Clubbed to Death, the Kurayamino Variation

While I was writing my novel, everyday before I put pen to paper, I would listen to the entire seven minutes of this musical masterpiece. It got to the point where anytime I heard even a snippet of this tune, I was ready to write (almost Pavlovian you might say). 

All of these examples or triggers you might call them, elicit an emotional response of positivity that allows me to tap into my creative side. Now I deliberately focus on the positive here because I believe you gain more by positive motivation rather than negative. I'll admit negativity is powerful and it can elicit tremendous feelings that can be utilized for creative purposes. I would warn you, though, that negativity has a tendency to distract and divert more than it does to motivate. 

Now you might have a knee jerk reaction of "I don't have anything like those triggers to draw upon". Perhaps, but if you gave it enough thought I believe you could find a wealth of positive triggers to use. Remember, it doesn't have to be a song or a movie, it could be a poem, a painting, a play, perhaps a joke or limerick  or even a dance or gesture. In fact there is quite a bit of research to show the sense of smell is the strongest sense in recalling past emotions.

So why do I bring all this up? Well one of the first lessons I learned studying to be a writer is 'write what you know.' I believe everyone's life contains volumes of stories - adventures just waiting to find expression. Friends and classmates would ask me 'where do you get your story ideas?' To me the answer is simple: my life, my experiences and my emotions, it's what I know. And it's a great place to start. Your life experiences are a great resource to find motivation and inspiration for future endeavors, because you experienced them. Who better to tell us about them than you? You see, it doesn't have to be through a written story, it can be through a painting, a sculpture, interactions, a hobby. Building new experiences upon positive older ones can and many times does create a positive loop you can use to improve your perspective, disposition, and outlook. 

As a writer I hope when someone reads my work they'll have the same positive reaction I do to my triggers. You might work in a different medium, but if you can reach your audience in a similar manner, well, to me that's an incredibly moving inspiration story. 

Thanks for reading. 
Questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Simple Bit of Inspiration

The instrumental song Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Mix) by Rob Dougan is one of my all time favorite songs. I have listened to it countless times to get in the mood for writing. Now, almost like a Pavlovian response to hearing it, I feel the need to put words on paper. 

For your listening pleasure: Link Here 

The piano solos half way through and at the end are just amazing to me. I find myself wanting to listen to this piece at least twice every time I hear it. 

What about you? Are than any piece of music you find inspirational and motivational? Let me know what they are. I'd love to have more music to motivate me.

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are welcome.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Comparing Greatness

So I was thinking lately how different people are inspired and motivated in different ways. For me, I've always found inspiration, fascination, and enjoyment from movies. In fact, I'm pretty sure from the age of 10 to about 18 all I really did was watch TV and movies. As I got older I managed to learn how to do other interesting things as well, so don't worry, I'm not a couch potato. 

However, there are times when I remember certain movies I've watch and just how much they affected me. It's also interesting to compare movies that deal with the same subject matter, or that are based on the same source material. One of my favorite examples is Henry V, by Shakespeare. By far my favorite play from the old bard, this play has been made into a movie many times. The two most notable are Laurence Olivier's 1944 version, and Kenneth Branagh's 1989 version. 

The Olivier version:

The Branagh version:

Now Olivier has the reputation of being one of the world's greatest actors of all time; Kenneth Branagh is less well know. However in my mind there's no doubt or debate that the Branagh version is so incredibly inspirational and emotionally powerful, it stands above Olivier's version, or any other version by about a thousand miles. 

I had a Shakespeare class in college where we viewed these exact versions. I remember being thoroughly bored and falling asleep while watching the Olivier version. When we watched Branagh's version, I was riveted to my seat, completely mesmerized. 

It's fair to note that in 1944, Olivier was making a movie that tried to rouse war weary Englanders to keep fighting the Nazis. The Branagh version tried to illustrate the horrors and torment of war. Regardless of the actors and directors' motivations, on a purely inspirational level, Kenneth Branagh brought it to a new level; one that I doubt could ever be matched.

Unlike a lot of other Shakespearean speeches, this one is pretty much in plain English and is easily understood. 

But what do you think? Two great actors delivering basically the exact same speech. Are you inspired, motivated, roused? Which, if either, makes the greater impact?

You see, inspiration can and does come from many places. Seeing things from different perspectives can fundamentally change the way you feel about a subject. That's why keeping an open mind is so important. Heck, every time Branagh finished his speech I want to get up and fight right along side him.

Do you?

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are welcome. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Can We Learn From Silence?

When you remove the noise and chatter of life, when you remove the distractions and supposed responsibilities, when you quiet the hustling cacophony and mind numbing drivel, what do you have?  Turn off the TV, turn off the cell phone, shut the windows, click off the radio and close the door. When you pause from your day-to-day routine and allow the silence to embrace you, let the agitation of everything fall away, let yourself relax and listen to your mind as it unwinds from the unnerving tension you constantly battle. What do you hear?

Can you relax enough to allow your deep inner voice to express itself? So often our ‘responsibilities’ get in the way of our selves. We are more than or jobs, our bills, our possessions. We are our hopes, our dreams, and our passions. Or at least we should be. Some people swear by meditation, others call it prayer; others encapsulate their mental decompression in yoga, or Tai chi. Some people just sleep. It's the release from mental oppression that those people seek, and sometimes find. That release is worth pursuing. But, too often the world demands more than we can give, and like petulant youngsters, we insist on trying to rise to that demand, not realizing that we cast away our true passions for the rat race that is today’s society.

If you were to just listen to your inner voice in that silent void you created, would it speak to you? Would you listen if it did? What if you heard that inner voice tell you a truth you didn’t want to accept or confront, would it then be something you could heed? Distractions have a way of blinding us. They take away the mind’s eye’s ability to see what is truly important. I find myself constantly reminding myself that I am in this journey of life racing only against myself. Yes, I can use others as a guide, role model, inspiration, but I desperately try not to compare myself to others. When I do, invariably I start to feel less successful, less capable, and less able. Although, sometimes I can see just how much better I’ve done than others, and it makes me feel undeservedly superior. Listening to my silent void I constantly hear one very specific thing: You can do better.

I’m not a perfectionist; I’m not a workaholic; I’m not a crazed fanatic. I see others that are so driven by one obsessive goal they forsake almost everything else for their prize. I can’t do that, but I do have goals. I’m on a mission, however. I have dreams; getting published, finding true love, financial independence, freedom to travel, gaining knowledge and enlightenment, but none of them are obsessively dominant. Some might say I’m well rounded. Am I better than those obsessively driven alpha types or are they better than me? When I sit and listen to the silence I don’t hear their voices, I don’t see their dreams, and I don’t feel their passions. I feel mine.

In the end, the silence tells me that I alone exist in my mind. Cognito ergo sum as Rene Descartes would say. That’s the beginning. Fortunately, if you listen to the silence, you might learn what direction to take next. Are you listening?

Picture credit goes to: Blue energy tornado by Juri Hahhalev,

Thanks for reading. Comments and questions are welcome?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Laugh at the Rain and Get Inspired

Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.

Two things that have always inspired me are laughs and the rain. Those are two rather disparate things don’t you think? You see the way I feel about inspiration, it doesn’t matter where it comes from, just as long as you feel something that moves you. Involving yourself in an activity that fuels your creative energies is a positive thing that can really make the difference in achieving your mission in life. Surrounding yourself with things that make you think or feel powerful emotions stirs up the will and drive to create. Some people might call that karma, some might call it setting the mood; whatever you choose to call it, take advantage of the power it can create.

Now I know that some people get a motivational kick from negative emotions too, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. I would caution, however, that dwelling too much in the negative can drag you down mentally, make you just a bit too pessimistic about things and darken your outlook on life and what it has to offer. Remember, the world can be a depressing place if you let it. Focusing on negativity, no matter how beneficial it can be for your motivation and inspiration can only get you so far. Embrace the positives and more positive things will occur.

Laughter is inspiring for a very simple and obvious reason. It’s fun to laugh. But how can the rain instill a feeling of inspiration? Well, I’ll tell you.

I love the rain. I live in San Diego. Naturally, I don’t get to enjoy the rain too often. I do remember listening to the rain when I was younger, living in rural Pennsylvania. I would sit at my desk, right next to my open window, and listen to the rain as it fell. And in Pennsylvania, the rain can fall for a very long time. Have you ever listened to the rain? Some say the rain is drab and dreary. That may be true if you only looked at the grey clouds from which the rain came. I listen to the sounds the rain makes falling on leaves, the ground, into puddles, on the pavement, the window. I smell the air and how clean and refreshing it feels. There’s something very cleansing and revitalizing about a good rain fall. I would listen to that rain and always feel compelled to write. To this day, when I hear the rain, I am instantly transported, with my imagination, to a place of creativity. Pavlov might say I’m conditioned to want to write because of that, but I won’t argue. Either way, writing is what I do, what I want to do, what I need to do.

If you have a passion, find a way to incorporate it into your life so that it becomes part of you. Find a way to make it naturally flow with the rest of your life so you can enjoy its positive power. It will be worth it. Give it a shot.

Thanks for reading. Comments and questions are always welcome

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Consistency Can Focus Your Passion

“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

It may seem presumptuous to disagree with one of the accepted greats of English literature, but I’m going to do it nonetheless. Sorry Oscar. Now I know that inspiration, creativity, motivation, spontaneity and such are most powerful when they are unhindered by oppressive shackles, laborious responsibilities, and the mind-numbing drudgery of life, but without focus, none of those things can find their highest potential. The way I see it, being consistent helps a person form discipline. It provides structure and a framework to build ever greater things. Finding a proper outlet for creativity and imagination allows them to flow, develop, grow and expand. It’s also worth note to say being consistent with your art form helps build skill, experience and technique.

Consider, what good is it to be a talented painter, writer, composer, sculptor, etc. without contributing to the craft? Having talent and creativity is great, but if you don’t bother to express it on a regular basis, that ability has gone to waste. Being consistent, however distasteful to Oscar as it might be, allows for expression to flow uninterrupted. So think about it, if you have a mindset where you can express yourself (through your art) on a consistent basis, you can focus on what you really want to convey and produce. Repeatedly coming back to your craft, working through the obstacles and barriers, both of the world and the mind, helps you gain valuable experience and develop a personal technique. Your voice, through your art will be that much more powerful because it is all the more refined and focused.

I’ve found that many times, I needed to push through the malaise of the mind, battle against apathy and distraction, literally forcing myself to write even when I didn’t want to do so. Some might say that isn’t creativity, or inspiration, and perhaps they are right. But I always looked at it as restructuring my mindset. It’s so easy to get distracted and say something else is more important because it needs to be tended to ‘right now’. If you let it, everything in life will distract you from your passions. Being consistent in refocusing your mind on your passions is the only way to make sure life doesn’t run rough shod over you your entire life. Remember, it’s not so much if you’ve done something, it’s how many times you’ve gone back to it after distractions pull you away that makes the difference.

Thanks for reading. Comments and questions are always welcome.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Don't Pardon the Interruption

Excuse me, what?

Have you ever gotten to the point where you’re so distracted, you become distracted from your distractions?  Let me explain.  There are times when I have a chore to do, or assignment and I can’t focus.  So I find my mind wandering to something else only to wander even further into something even less productive.  Here’s an example.  I knew I needed to get some writing in this last weekend, so I sat down and tried to get into the right state of mind.  As I sat and contemplated where I wanted my story to go, my eyes wandered across my desk until I realized it needed to be straightened or I’d become buried in junk.  So I started to clean up.  While doing this I imagined my characters going about their daily lives until I realized that my desk needed a good dusting soon or the dust would require an archaeologist to clear it away.  So what did I do?  I started dusting (I don’t know any archaeologists). 
After about 20 minutes I looked down at my computer screen, which now had gone dark with its energy saver mode, so I slapped down the cover and continued to clean.  Once done, I sat down and checked my text messages.  It wasn’t until I checked the clock on my phone that I realized almost an hour had gone by.  I was like WTH?  I put the phone down, lifted the lid on my laptop and just started writing.  I managed to get a good amount of words on page, but it bothered me that such distractions could take over. 

I’ve got to concentrate!

So what do you do when you’re so unfocused, you’re distracted by distractions of distractions?  I mean it happens to all of us and it can be rather disconcerting.  For me, analyzing what happened and why works most of the time.  What it really comes down to, for me at least, is having the wrong mindset.  Have you ever told yourself “I have to get this done?”  I have, but think about what that means.  It’s the ‘have’ that frames the activity, not a ‘want’.  Everyone has chores and responsibilities that have to be done, it’s a matter of fact in daily life.  Sometimes those chores suck, are boring, are difficult, and the do provide a drain on your motivation and morale. 

I know what you’re thinking, “thanks for depressing me man.”  Sorry, so now that you’re depressed, what do we do about it?  Change your mindset of course.  Remember, perspective is how we view our lives, our dreams, motivation and ultimately our mission.  So you couldn’t concentrate, lost your focus and were distracted by multiple levels of distractions.  I’ve found when something like that happens, I need to re-examine why I’m even trying to do that task in the first place.  If it’s a chore, well, sometimes you just have to hunker down and get it done.  But I’m more interested in the hobby, you know, the thing you want to do that’s supposed to make you feel better, feel happy. 

The simple answer is: Maybe you don’t really like what you’re doing.  Too easy?  Maybe.  You could also be stuck in a rut.  Being so used to doing something you forgot that it’s supposed to make you feel energized, revitalized, and refreshed.  Solution:  Try something new.  In my example, I was trying to write.  Now I love writing, but I found I needed something else for inspiration.  Enter the Saxophone.  Playing is still creative and expressive, only in a very different way.  Once I started playing the Sax you know what I found?  It was easier to write.  I went back to writing with new vigor and stamina. 

So, try something new, if only to remind yourself how much you like your original hobby.  A bonus is you find a new activity that inspires you even more than before.  And that kind of focus is a good was to avoid distractions.  Good luck!

Comments and questions are always welcome.  Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Smile, It's Friday!

Well, for me it's been a rather exhausting week.  Battling certain problems repeatedly really drains you of creative energy. That's what makes it so amazing that it's Friday.  I LOVE the weekend.  And I hope you do too.  It's a time to really just let all your stress and worry melt a way, even if it's only for a short while.  Remember, whatever may be causing you pain or distress doesn't have to command your life 24/7.  You are allowed to relax and feel good about yourself sometimes.  I promise it won't hurt.

Happy Friday.

Check back next week for another motivational post for Inspiration!

Until then, don't be afraid to share what's on your mind.  I'd love to chat!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Spontaneous Blast of Inspiration

Maybe you've read or heard about the Tsunami Ghost Ship that was floating around the pacific for the last year.  According to the article it is now at the bottom of the Gulf of Alaska.  I've talked about abandoned places recently, but just a couple of days ago I was suddenly inspired by the ghost ship events.  I came up with a story idea.  It just hit me like a ton of bricks, like so many other story ideas. 

The amazement I felt as I saw the story unfold in my mind, developing, becoming layered, intricate, interesting and meaningful, made me feel great.  That kind of inspiration doesn't always happen.  When it does, for me at least, I'm filled with an awed sense of wonder.  Really.  The idea of constructing a world in my head, with characters, events, histories, feelings, emotions, life if you will, is truly awesome.  It's quite fascinating where inspiration comes from and how unexpectedly it arrives. 

You see, I've opened myself up to the idea that inspiration can and does come from the most amazing, or most mundane of things.  Inspiration is all around us.  We just have to learn how to recognize it.  Sometimes, the full force of creative inspiration comes in the blink of an eye, other times, inspiration seems to be as rare as water in a parched desert.  But if we learn to recognize where and how inspiration comes from, that oasis in the desert can become an ocean of ideas.  I've found my next project, now all I have to do is write it.  What about you?

Reckless Beams of Light by GR Exper
Reckless Beams of Light, by G.R. Exper

Monday, March 28, 2011

Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Closely linked to Creativity is the Inspiration necessary to create.  I've often wondered 'where' Inspiration comes from.  To be totally honest, Inspiration comes from everywhere, anywhere and nowhere.  At first this may seem like a cryptic and convoluted non-answer, but bear with me.  Life is really just a person's perspective.  It's the sum of all their experiences, knowledge, intellect, hopes, dreams, fears and relationships, to both others and their environment.  People see life through their own perspective, not Bob's, or Jim's, or Sally's.  If one were to remain isolated in their comfort zone, that comfort zone would shrink and they would be less and less likely to try new things, keep an open mind about different perspectives and generally become closed off.

This is where inspiration does NOT live.  Inspiration is closely linked to experience, variation and  emotional variance.  If you become exposed to more and more things, your understanding increases and the ability to see things from differing points of view grows.  The possibilities of 'what if' become stronger and it leads you to think in new ways.  Once the power of 'new' takes hold, Inspiration becomes easier.  All of the things in your life now take on the possibility of inspiring a new thought or idea, dream or scheme.

Try this:  Go into a room you have been in many times.  Look around.  If it all looks the same change your perspective.  Stand on the chair and look down.  Climb up on the counter and look around (please be careful).  It's the same room, but you're looking at it from a totally different and probably new perspective.  You changed your perspective of that room and your view of it changed too.  Keep that feeling alive and inspiration will come.

I believe in you.  It can happen.  Just change your perspective.

Thanks for reading.

Understanding Pandemics

By Doug Clark Head Writer -  The Inspiration Engine With all that is going on with Covid 19, I thought it would be a good idea to help ...